NORTH HAVERHILL — A judge has denied a proposed agreement between an officer and the Grafton County Attorney to remove him or her from a confidential list of officers with credibility issues.
“As became evident” during a March 4 hearing in Grafton County Superior Court, “the Attorney General, and not the Grafton County Attorney or any other county attorney is the sole executive officer with the authority to remove or decertify a police officer from the EES (Exculpatory Evidence Schedule),” wrote Judge Lawrence MacLeod in an order he handed down April 11.
Indeed, MacLeod continued, that fact is “explicitly recognized” in the stipulated agreement that the parties wanted him to approve.
Even if the court approved the agreement, said MacLeod, “the result would be incongruent in the sense that the portion of the plaintiff’s personnel records at issue would continue to be disclosed to criminal defendants prosecuted by the Attorney General or other county attorneys in cases where the plaintiff was a witness, but would not be disclosed in cases prosecuted by the Grafton County Attorney.”
Identified in court documents only as “Officer AB,” the officer in question wanted their name removed by then County Attorney Lara Saffo from the Grafton County equivalent of the EES so as to be able to continue in their law-enforcement career.
The officer was placed on the county list in 2011 after his/her department launched an investigation into the officer lying about a use-of-force incident in the summer of 2007.
According to Officer AB’s attorney in court documents, during that incident, the officer drew his firearm and pointed it at a person he/she had been transporting. Being a rookie officer at the time, Officer AB, when he/she wrote up an incident report, heeded a senior colleague, said AB’s attorney, and misrepresented the reason for displaying their gun.
Four years later, Officer AB confessed to their police chief what they had done, which led to an investigation that both cleared the officer of any criminal wrongdoing in connection with the 2007 incident and placed them onto Grafton County’s EES.
Henry Klementowicz, who is staff attorney at the ACLU of New Hampshire, said the lawsuit by Officer AB “further highlights why the (EES list) should be made a public document — and that’s why we’re fighting in court to make that happen.”
In a lawsuit against the Attorney General, the NH-ACLU — joined by the Union Leader; NH Center for Public Interest Journalism; the Nashua Telegraph; the Concord Monitor/Valley News; the Portsmouth Herald/Foster’s Daily Democrat; and the Keene Sentinel — wants the release of an unredacted EES list that is now believed to contain the names of more than 250 officers.
After learning of Officer AB’s lawsuit against the Grafton County Attorney, the ACLU filed a motion to intervene. Meanwhile, Martha Hornick, who succeeded Saffo, filed a motion to withdraw the stipulated agreement with the officer on the grounds that it was “abundantly clear” that her office lacked the authority to enter into such an agreement.
AB’s attorney then filed a motion to compel Hornick to abide by the terms of the stipulated agreement, but MacLeod’s order would appear to make moot that motion and all motions filed subsequent to the stipulated agreement.
“Police officers who are named on the Exculpatory Evidence Schedule are there because they have engaged in misconduct,” Klementowicz wrote in an April 12 email. “Every person has a right to due process when interacting with the criminal justice system, and that includes access to evidence that police officer witnesses may have been dishonest in the past.”